By Ogechi Oseh
With less than two years to the 2023 general elections, there have been a lot of political realignments and scheming from different aspirants and pressure groups. As usual, many pretenders and serial contenders are also holding meetings and building bridges across the country preparatory to taking a shot at the exalted position of president. But going by the various agitations noticeable in every part of the country, Nigeria deserves a leader that can galvanise national unity and cohesion and assuage aggrieved nerves as well as heal broken hearts. The nation deserves a courageous, young, dynamic, resourceful, highly experienced and competent leader with residual knowledge about our dear country.
One man fits perfectly into the picture of the president that majority of Nigerians are yearning for to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. It is no other person than the two-time executive governor of Kogi state, His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello, a grassroots politician of note, true lover of the womenfolk, a workaholic and conscientious leader. Nigerian women and indeed all the youths have agreed that Bello is the only candidate that has the wherewithal to build on the modest achievements recorded by the Buhari administration. Consequently, most of us are ready and willing to take up the gauntlet to mobilise Nigerian women and youth across the length and breadth of the country to compel “the Most Women Friendly Governor” in the history of the nation to offer himself for the president of the biggest black nation on earth.
Bello deliberate efforts in the development of women especially in raising their participation in politics and governance is unparalled. In fact, the United Nation has acknowledged Governor Bello’s track record. In January this year, the UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, in a letter of commendation described Bello’s love for the women as a “bold effort” on the part of the state government. It is on record that Yahaya Bello is the first governor ever to facilitate the election of women as deputy chairpersons of the 21 local government areas (LGAs) in a state. Today, Kogi has the 63 female councillors, which is the highest in the country and Bello is the first and only governor in the history of the country to have a female Aide-de-Camp (ADC). Apart from these, Kogi is the only state where both the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Head of the Service are both women simultaneously. Governor Bello is championing the cause of women at a time when Nigeria is ranked low — 185th position out of 193 countries — on percentage of women in national parliaments.
Why should a man of this caliber that cares for women not be given the chance to run the affairs of our great country. It shows Bello has a loving heart and for any leader to succeed, he must have milk of love flowing in his veins, and for this singular act, we would campaign for Bello. But Governor Bello has equally performed creditably well in other sectors to warrant our call for all Nigerians to roll out drums and join the women in routing for Bello to become our nation’s next president. It is desirable and it is a worthwhile project.
Governor Bello has in the past six years, carved a niche for himself in the area of security, qualitative education and qualitative healthcare delivery. The manner the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic was contained in Kogi state is a pointer to the adroit managerial skills of Bello. Due to his no-nonsense and uncompromising stance on insecurity, today, Kogi is undoubtedly the most peaceful state in the country. The state is indeed insecurity-free. In the area of education, the governor was recently recognised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for his developmental efforts in putting the state on the map of educationally advanced states in the country. Most stakeholders have argued that part of the insecurity pervading the nation today is due to illiteracy and having a leader in the mould of Bello who knows the essence of education, Nigeria will become a high flying nation in no time.
Part of the APC-led government’s agenda is to create wealth and employment through farming. Bello is a practical example as could be seen from the multi-million naira rice mill at Ejiba in Yagba West Local government area of the state initiated and built by his administration. It is on record that the rice mill has taken thousands of youths off the unemployment market as it has created jobs to both indigenes and other Nigerians.
An unrepentant anti-corruption advocate, Governor Bello has run Kogi state in the most transparent and accountable manner. Being a professional accountant, he has been able to instill global best practices in conducting the business of governance. No wonder, Governor Bello has in the last six years received many awards from states fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability for two consecutive years.
A man of the people who is loved by all, Bello has been able to unite all the ethnic groups in the state and this is responsible for the total absence of communal skirmishes in Kogi state. How good it will be for Governor Bello to ascend the presidency so that he can replicate the unity model he used in Kogi state for the whole nation.
“Look at the unity he has brought to the different ethnic groups in Kogi through his appointments and spread of projects across the three Senatorial districts of the state. This is why we are calling on him to vie for the seat of the president, so he can equally unite the people of Nigeria. He is a bridge-builder.” They maintained that a Bello led presidency would be an added advantage to Nigeria and Nigerians as he would be able to build on the legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Again, even if one is talking about zoning, Bello is in a good stead to vie for the presidency because since 1999, the North Central has neither produced president nor vice president. The south west had enjoyed eight years of presidency and would enjoy another eight years of vice presidency by 2023. While the north east occupied the position of vice president for 8 years, the North West would have enjoyed the presidency for eleven years by 2023 with the south south occupying position of president for five years and vice president for three years respectively. Hence, only the north central and the south east have not tasted any of the prime positions since the return of democracy.
But of course, the north central has more stake to the presidency in 2023 than the south east because, while the north central is a predominantly APC state with the exception of Benue state, the party controls only one state in the south east region. Therefore, in the spirit of fairness and justice, the party should look the way of Bello. Let there be a level playing field so that popular and widely accepted leaders such as Bello could vie for the exalted office. Besides, being a thorough-bred loyal party man, he is focused and resilient. He is a paragon of virtue. His track record of leadership in the past six years is a testimony to the fact that he is eminently qualified and is very vocal. He is also a detribalised leader with a heart of gold.
Most importantly, age is on Governor Bello’s side as he will be just 47 years by 2023, which will make him the youngest civilian president to be elected in Nigeria. This will be a plus for the nation because in a long while, we will be having a president that is relatively young, full of energy, pragmatic and well exposed.
Based on these reasons and many others, which could not be mention here for lack of space, we are calling on His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello not to shy away from throwing his hat in the ring for the exalted position of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigerian women and youths are solidly behind him and would mobilise Nigerian electorate to vote massively for him should he heed the call to seek for the highest office in the land. Nigerians are yearning for the best and would not settle for less come 2023, therefore, Bello with the requisite competence and wherewithal to lead must not disappoint his teeming admirers and fans across the nation.
…Ogechi Oseh, a human rights activist and public affairs analyst writes from Abuja.